9-year-old girl in US reports on murder and takes a stand on journalism

Nine-year-old reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak at a visit to Stayman Park Apartments in Shamokin Dam.
Nine-year-old reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak at a visit to Stayman Park Apartments in Shamokin Dam.PHOTO: ORANGE STREET NEWS FACEBOOK
Hilde Kate Lysiak is the editor and publisher of her own newspaper, Orange Street News.
Hilde Kate Lysiak is the editor and publisher of her own newspaper, Orange Street News.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM ORANGE STREET NEWS WEBSITE
A print copy of Orange Street News.
A print copy of Orange Street News.PHOTO: ORANGE STREET NEWS FACEBOOK

Reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak broke a homicide story in her hometown of Selinsgrove in the state of Pennsylvania.

Hilde is only nine years old and she is the editor and publisher of her own newspaper, Orange Street News.

She became a media sensation, receiving coverage from the Washington Post, NPR and international newspapers.

The suspected homicide took place on April 2. Hilde, after receiving a tip off that police men had gathered a few blocks away from her home, went down to the murder scene. She had called the police department before that to confirm the information. Once on site, she questioned neighbours to find out more about the victim.

Hilde came prepared, with pen and camera. Besides posting an online story, the young reporter recorded a short video of the crime scene.

But there were mixed reactions from the online community to her age and passion for journalism.

Some critics accused her of poor journalism practices.

"I think this is appalling that (you) would do a story like this when all the facts are not in yet," a commenter wrote on Orange Street News' Facebook site, according to the Washington Post.

The comments have since been deleted.

Professionals have weighed in on the psychological harms of young children witnessing crimes.

"I know how profoundly something like that impacts you, whether or not you realise it at the time. I think it changes who you are. I think it changes how you see the world, I think it changes how you interact with people," said Pamela Wechsler, an experienced prosecutor, CNN reported.

However, Hilde's father, Matthew Lysiak, has a different view.

The former New York Daily News reporter went with his daughter to the crime scene, ensuring her safety, according to ABC News.

He approves of his daughter's efforts as a journalist.

"She just wants to get the stories out and she really wants to report real news", he said.

Growing up, Hilde had first-hand experience as a reporter. She would accompany her father to the housing projects in the Bronx, a county in New York City when he covered stories.

On April 6, she wrote a piece for The Guardian, in response to all the criticism.

"Residents of Selinsgrove publicly called my work trash and told me I should leave it to the professionals. Other people told me I should stick to tea parties and playing with dolls," she posted. She also commented on idealism in youths, and how adults can play a part in encouraging youths to pursue their dreams.

"If adults don't think we can do something, then it is hard for us to believe that we can. And then how will we have great things in this world?" she asked.

She brought up another key issue - gender. "Some people have asked me if I thought people would have reacted differently if I were a boy."

Making a stand against stereotypes, she also wrote: "Grown-ups shouldn't assume that a kid - boy or girl - should be doing just one thing or another."

Her passion for journalism is apparent. "Yes, I am a nine-year-old girl. But I'm a reporter, first."